Reviews
The Round of Pleasure
January 2nd, 2008
Werner Schwab's THE ROUND OF PLEASURE [****]
by Glen Loney, New York Theatre Wire

This elegantly-devised production should also be seen at the Salzburg Festival. After all, its author was the late avant-garde Austrian playwright, Werner Schwab! What is more, he based this strange script on the best-known drama of another Austrian playwright, Dr. Arthur Schnitzler!

That drama, widely known as La Rondeowing to the masterful film-version—is a sort of round-dance of changing sexual-partners in turn-of-the-century Vienna, where Sexual-Repressions and Hang-Ups gave good employment to the genius of Dr. Schnitzler's colleague, Dr. Sigmund Freud.

Schwab was also something of a genius, but he used his fertile imagination in service of a kind of Germanic Black Comedy rich in Scatology, Degradation, Linguistic-Nealogisms, Violence, and Surrealism. These are almost impossible to translate into English-Equivalents, so translator Michael Mitchell has resourcefully devised toned-down similarities.

The basic outline of Schnitzler's drama remains, but what makes this production so fascinating is the handsome Visualization of the text, with direction by Ildiko Nemeth, choreography by Julie Atlas Muz, and stunning costumes, stage-environments, and lighting by Nemeth and Jessica Sofia Martin, Joel Grossman, Frederico Restrepo, and Marguerite Lochard.

The equally handsome and talented cast includes Markus Hingel, Catherine Correa, Jeanne Lauren Smith, Sarah Lemp, and Kaylin Lee. Despite the limited performance-space at the Clemente Soto Velez Center, Nemeth's New Stage Company has achieved a production of Beauty and Power.

What Viennse audiences did not know—or understand—when they first saw Dr. Schnitzler's Reigen was that it was also an unspoken—even hidden—documentation of the way in which Syphilis is transmitted from partner to partner. In La Ronde, it passes from a Street-Walking Prostitute all the way up the Social-Ladder to the Highest Rungs

As for Werner Schwab, shortly after wining four major playwriting-awards and being hailed as the most promising new young Germanic Theatre-Voice, he died tragically at 36 years of age. Nonetheless, he had created 16 plays before he passed over…

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